School is out, the weather is warming up, and it is time to start racking up some miles. While you might be training for your next century ride or singletrack epic, make sure you’re including the kids on some of your rides too. Unlike adults, most kids aren’t interested in racking up the miles for the sake of it, so come up with some fun ways to motivate your kids to get outside on bikes. Here are a dozen (plus!) of our favorite summer outings that incorporate bicycles. They are sure to provide quality family time, plenty of exercise, and connection with your local community.
13. Visit a bike park or pump track.
Kids LOVE pump tracks and skills parks. They are a great way to burn some energy, meet other biking families, and develop bike-handling skills. Use google to find a bike park near you, or an app like Trailforks. We’ve spent a year traveling North America and have found that most towns and cities have at least a pump track somewhere nearby.
12. Go bike camping.
For many families, summertime means biking. But have you considered bike camping? Biking with your kids to a campground adds a whole other level of adventure and excitement to the experience. You can make it as simple or as adventurous as you would like by riding a few miles to camp in grandma and grandpa’s backyard or “bikepacking” to a remote wilderness location.
11. Join a kiddical mass ride.
Find a Kiddical Mass ride, or other local family group ride, in your area. If one doesn’t exist, find a few other families to join you for a ride. Kids love riding with other kids and this is a great way to meet other like-minded families. It’s also an effective way to gain awareness for family cycling and motivate others to get out on bikes.
10. Bike to the pool or beach.
On hot days, load up some beach towels and head to the pool or the beach to swim. By biking, you don’t have to worry about finding a parking spot, and the kids are guaranteed to sleep well after a long day of bike and water play. There’s also nothing better than jumping into a cool body of water after getting hot and sweaty on a good bike ride.
9. Take a cycling vacation.
Does your whole family love riding bikes? Consider a bike-centric vacation this summer. This might be a week-long bike tour or simply a resort town with plenty of bike paths. For ideas on where to go, check out this list of family-friendly bike vacations.
8. Try racing.
If your kids are the competitive sort, try signing up for a race. Many organizations will put on kid-races in conjunction with grown-up races, so the whole family can get into the action. Even toddlers can try racing in the Strider World Cup races (and similar local events). If your family isn’t ready to try racing, it can also be fun to bike to a race and spectate. In our experience, watching racers is hugely motivating to kids.
7. Host a bike parade.
With 4th of July coming up, consider hosting a bike parade either on the big day or the week prior. Have kids decorate their bikes–streamers, paper plates, and pipe cleaners all work well–and then parade through the neighborhood to show off their handiwork. Littler kids can even decorate their bike trailer. If you don’t live in a neighborhood with really light traffic, make sure you have several adults willing to manage traffic control.
6. Set-up an obstacle course.
Invite the neighborhood kids over and set up a bicycle obstacle course. Set out some cones (or plastic cups) to create a course for kids to practice cornering and steering. Add a sprinkler to the mix to cool things off. Bigger kids might also have fun with a few jumps thrown in.
5. Track your miles and create rewards.
Add a bike computer to your bicycle or use an app like Strava to track the miles your ride this summer. Set up goals with your kids and create rewards when you reach them. 50 miles might earn an afternoon movie, for example. 100 miles earns a new book. The goals and the rewards can be as big or as small as you want to make them.
4. Give up your car for a week.
Summer usually means fewer commitments–no school, fewer lessons, more time off of work. This lazy time also lends itself well to a break from the car. Challenge your family to give up the car for a whole week and bike everywhere you need to go. Get creative with how you haul groceries, bring home library books, and run your errands.
3. Map out a Tour de Playgrounds.
Pull out your city’s bike map and configure a loop that will take you past as many playgrounds as possible. The good news is that most paved bike paths already run thru or near nice parks. You might be surprised by how far your children can ride if the route is punctuated by nice play breaks on some slides and swings. Take along a picnic lunch as well and make a whole day out of it.
2. Ride to the local farmer’s market.
Most towns have awesome local farmer’s markets during the summer. Take along a basket or backpack, and have your kids shop for a special meal you can make as a family. This is a great lesson on healthy living–both physical activity and good food.
1. Bike to ice cream!!!
We have an ice cream shop about a mile from our house and it provides a great excuse to get in a quick bike ride a few evenings a week. Very few kids will turn down a bike ride if there is a tasty treat involved. Invite a neighborhood family to join you and help spread the bike love.